Toad Tuesday

Coastal Plains Toad (Incilius nebulifer)

Coastal Plains Toad
photo by Kevin Young

least concern
Common Name: Coastal Plains Toad
Scientific Name: Incilius nebulifer
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad Family
Location: Mexico and the United States
US Locations: Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi
Size: 3 – 5 inches (7.6 – 12.7 cm)

The Coastal Plains Toad is found along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. They used to be part of the Gulf Coast Toad (Incilius valliceps) species but was split off due to genetic testing. It is still kinda confusing even though it happened over 20 years ago. Additionally, they are one of the largest toads native to the United States and are known for their defined cranial crest.

photo by William L. Farr

The spring and summer rains bring the Coastal Plains Toad out to mate. The frogs breed in a variety of still-water sources such as ponds, wetlands, and roadside ditches. The males call out to females in hopes of attracting them from these water bodies. Once the female shows up, the male grasps her from behind in the amplexus position. Then, the female lays her eggs and the male fertilizes them. Surprisingly, the females can lay up to 20,000 eggs in a clutch and have been observed to lay two clutches in extended breeding seasons. Additionally, neither the male or female show any parental care towards the eggs. The eggs hatch in a day or two and the tadpoles then complete metamorphosis in 20 to 30 days. Once the juvenile frogs reach a year old, they reach sexual maturity and are ready to breed.

The International Union for the Conservation (IUCN) Red List places the Coastal Plains Toad as Least Concern for Extinction. They have adapted alright to the urbanization of their habitat. They have been observed to hide under concrete slabs and in cracks and holes of sidewalks. The frogs seem to be doing great.

Toad Tuesday

North American Green Toad (Anaxyrus debilis)

photo by USGS
least concern

Common Name: Green Toad, North American Green Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus debilis
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: Mexico and the United States
US Locations: Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas
Size: 1.4 inches

The North American Green Toad is found in the south-central United States and down to Mexico. It is often called just the Green Toad but that often leads to confusion with the European Green Toad (Bufo viridis). Obviously, the European species is found in Europe but can be confusing when googling. There are two subspecies of the North American toad that are recognized today, the Western (Anaxyrus debilis insidior) and the Eastern Green Toad (Anaxyrus debilis debilis). The toads are rather secretive, often spending their day burrowed underground or hiding under logs or other objects. They come out at night to hunt for prey.

photo by John Clare

Breeding takes place during or after the summer rains come. When these rains arrive from March to June, depend on location. As explosive breeders, the Green Toad generally only takes a few days to breed in temporary ponds filled by the summer rains. These ponds are free of some of the common predators of the toad’s eggs and tadpoles such as fish. They make amazing breeding sites besides the fact that they will eventually dry up. The tadpoles hatch from their eggs quickly, even within a day. The tadpoles also go through their metamorphoses fast, in less than three weeks.

Frog of the Week

Western Toad (Anaxyrus boreas)

photo by Walter Siegmund

least concern
Common Name: Western Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus boreas
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: Canada, Mexico, and the United States
US Locations: Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming
Size: 2.2 – 5 inches (5.6 – 13 cm)

The Western Toad is found in western North America, from Alaska down to Baja California. There are two subspecies of the toad, the California Toad (A. b. halophilus) and the Boreal Toad (A. b. boreas). The California Toad is found in California (duh), northern Baja California, and western Nevada. The Boreal Toad is found in the northern parts of the range.

photo from USGS/Chris Brown

Some populations of the Western Toad are not doing so hot. Western Toads are listed in Colorado as an endangered species. They are listed as a protected species in Wyoming. Chytrid Fungus, a deadly pathogen, seems to be the main problem for the Western Toads. Habitat destruction is another problem for the toads.

Frog of the Week

Mexican Spadefoot Toad (Spea multiplicata)

Mexican Spadefoot Toad
photo by Sarah Beckwith

Common Name: Mexican Spadefoot Toad, New Mexican Spadefoot Toad, Southern Spadefoot Toad, Desert Spadefoot Toad
Scientific Name: Spea multiplicata
Family: Scaphiopodidae – American Spadefoot Toad family
Locations: Mexico and the United States
US Locations: Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah
Size: 2.5 inches

The Mexican Spadefoot Toad is found in the southwestern United States and most of central Mexico. Like all spadefoot toads, the Mexican Spadefoot Toad does have keratinized spade-like projections on their hind legs. They use these spades to burrow into the ground. The Mexican Spadefoot Toad spends most of the day underground, coming up at night to hunt and look for mates. For mating, it usually takes place after heavy rains. Breeding periods only last one or two days in ponds and pools that form from the rains. These pools and ponds only last a few weeks. Therefore, the eggs hatch in a few days and it only takes the tadpoles a couple weeks to undergo metamorphosis.



Woodhouse’s Toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii)

photo by LA Dawson

Common Name: Woodhouse’s Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus woodhousii
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: Mexico and the United States
US Locations: Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming
Size: 2 – 5 inches (5.08 – 12.7 cm)

The Woodhouse’s Toad is named after Samuel Washington Woodhouse, a physician and naturalist. The toad is pretty much your typical toad. For instance, they spend much of their day underground or under logs. Typically, the toads come out at night to forage for insects and other invertebrates. There are three different sub species of toad that some scientists recognize.

  • Southwestern Woodhouse Toad – Anaxyrus woodhousii australis
  • East Texas Toad – Anaxyrus woodhousii velatu
  • Rocky Mountain Toad – Anaxyrus woodhousii woodhousii
photo by John P Clare

Reproduction in Woodhouse’s Toad

The Woodhouse’s Toad breeds from February to September. Populations in different areas breed at different times. In the Sonoran Desert, populations near streams or rivers on rain-less will breed on warm spring nights. Breeding here lasts two to four months long. Meanwhile, toads in open desert flats will breed following heavy, summer rains in temporary pools that are created. Breeding here only lasts as little as five days! Next, in the Great Plains region, the toads breed from February to July in lakes, ponds, and temporary rain filled pools.

Overall, the breeding behavior is pretty standard after that. The males will call in the shallows of the water bodies. Afterwards, the female will select a mate. Then, the male will grasp her from behind in the amplexus position. Next, the female will then lay her eggs and the male will fertilize them. The female can lay up to 25,000 eggs! Neither of the parents provide any care for their offspring. The tadpoles then take 5 to 8 weeks to complete their metamorphosis.

Frog of the Week

Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri)

photo by Jimpaz

Common Name: Fowler’s Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus fowleri
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad Family
Location: Canada and the United States
US Location: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, and West Virginia
Size: 2.5 – 3.75 inches (6.35 – 9.5 cm)

The Fowler’s Toad is named in honor after naturalist Samuel Page Fowler, who formed the Essex County Natural History Society, which became the Essex Institute and merged Peabody Museum of Salem to form the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. The Fowler’s Toad is found mostly in the eastern United States and barely in southeastern Canada. They spend most of their time burrowed during the day and come out at night to forage. The toads are slightly poisonous. If you handle them, wear gloves and don’t touch your eyes. Also don’t eat them or let your dogs eat them.

photo by Todd Pierson

They breed during summer, from June to August, and the farther south they are, the later they breed. Heavy rains bring out the frogs to start mating. Males of the species will call from shallow waters in ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers. The males will form large breeding aggregations, calling out for the females. Once the female enters the pond and selects a mate, the male will grasp her behind in amplexus. Other males will try to jump in and try to bred with the female. The female will lay her eggs and the male will fertilize them. The female can lay between 2,000 to 10,000 eggs in a clutch. Neither parent provides any parental care for their offspring. The larval period for the toads is between 40 – 60 days.

Family Friday

Harlequin Toads (Atelopus)

Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Number of Species: 97
Location: Central and South America

The members of the genus Atelopus are commonly referred to as the Harlequin Toads or Stubfoot Toads. There are many members of the genus but the majority of them are endangered of becoming extinct. Many species in the genus haven’t been seen in decades. The main culprit of their status is Chytrid Fungus, a deadly fungal pathogen that affects amphibians. Also habitat lose, pollution, and invasive species are also not helping these toads. These toads are often brightly colored and beautiful so it would be shame if they went extinct.

Frog or Toad

Answer to Frog or Toad 3/27/18


It is time to reveal the answer to this week’s frog or toad. The answer is…FROG. It is an Archey’s Frog (Leiopelma archeyi)! The Archey’s Frog is native to New Zealand and is critically endangered.

The Archey’s Frog lacks a parotoid gland behind its eye. Its body is also fairly slender, smooth, and doesn’t have any warts. That’s some tips to tell it is a frog.

Tune in next week for the next Frog or Toad #FrogOrToad